Western leaders are increasingly following Putin's lead in managing global crises
This article originally appeared at Oriental Review
Contrary to the expectations of many experts who were predicting a “secondMunich” from Vladimir Putin in New York, the Russian president made no grandiose proclamations during his address to the UN General Assembly. In fact, he was outwardly far milder than one might have imagined. By comparison, Obama’s emotional speech, which was replete with strident but unsubstantiated claims, seemed sad, and occasionally even comical. For example, there was a passage about the ouster of Assad, but then less than a day later the US position flip-flopped …
After the speeches, Putin and Obama sat down for a nearly two-hour conversation, after which the US president could not even rouse himself sufficiently to emerge to speak to journalists. The Russian president conducted an exhaustive press conference on his own.
What is the takeaway from those last three days in September, which, according to many observers, lay to rest the idea of a unipolar world?
First of all, the US is making profound changes in its attitude to Poroshenko’s regime in Ukraine, assembling a reserve set of “politicians” and revoking its green light for military action. Incumbent PM Yatsenyuk is more likely to be replaced by Sergey Lyovochkin, former head of ex-president Yanukovych’ administration and memner of “Opposition Bloc”. Given the pacification of Kiev and the Southeast in accordance with the Kremlin’s terms, the US withdrawal from Ukraine – and the withdrawal of Ukraine itself into the shadow of the world’s agenda – the US wager on the “Opposition Bloc” makes perfect sense.
The very next day in Minsk, Aleksandr Zakharchenko and Leonid Kuchma confirmed that weapons of a caliber less than 100 mm. would be pulled back 15 km. behind the front line, which actually signifies an end to the hostilities. For the preceding seven months no one had been able to reach an agreement on this point. At the same time, Kiev admitted that it had committed war crimes in the Donbass: several stories on this topic appeared over the course of a single day in the Ukrainian media, from the admission that Oles Buzina had been killed by commandos from a special forces unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to an acknowledgment of crimes committed by “territorial” battalions. Obviously this would not have happened without an order from the American embassy. To this must be added the resignation of Evelyn Farkas, the Pentagon’s top official overseeing military relations with Russia and Ukraine. Ms. Farkas had held that position for five years. She will officially leave her post in late October. It should be noted that this senior official had insisted on retaliatory measures against Russia’s policy in Ukraine and had also facilitated the provision of financial aid to Kiev.
And all this occurred less than a day after Vladimir Putin’s speech in New York and his meeting with Obama. That means that all these events were the result of a deal. And in fact, these are only the first fruits. Clearly there is more to come. But the trend is clear – the US has acknowledged the legitimacy of Russian claims that Ukraine is within Russia’s sphere of interest.
Second, the situation in and around Syria changed dramatically over the course of one day. The US is no longer insisting on Assad’s resignation. The US is not opposing Russian military involvement in operations against ISIL and is prepared to enter into immediate negotiations with Russia about the formation of a united front against terrorists. Russia’s air forcelaunched strikes on ISIL strongholds after Assad asked Moscow for military assistance, and the Federation Council approved the use of the Russian air force against the terrorists in Syria. That would have been inconceivable even on the morning of Sept. 28. But only a day and a half later this was the reality, which is evidence of the dramatic change in the entire global geopolitical picture.
Time magazine had written about this just the day before.
If Putin can get Obama to go along with his proposal as well, it would mark one of the greatest diplomatic triumphs of his 15 years in power.
This means Russia’s victory is now official. The only question is – victory over whom?
What I mean is – I would like to emphasize that this is not a victory over Obama, as many experts are simplistically trying to present it, but over a powerful supranational grouping, which uses the United States as a battering ram in order to plunge the world into a new Middle Ages. And this group’s reaction to the agreement between Putin and Obama quickly followed. Right out of the blue Hillary Clinton launched into a tirade of criticism against Obama. But she was not lambasting him over agreements with Russia on Syria and Ukraine, as one might have expected, but over a purely domestic issue – ObamaCare.
Leaving aside for the moment the content of his speech, which has already been picked over for quotes, let us try to answer the main question – why did Putin have to address the “international community” at all? Couldn’t he have just published an article in any international media outlet? The answer is very simple – for the same reason he had to help a flock of young Siberian cranes get to where they needed to go. The content of Putin’s New York speech takes a distant second to the psychological component of his message to the leaders of the world community and the global decision-makers in the West. Time will reveal the significance of that. But, looking at how the global picture evolved between Sept. 29 and 30, we can see that Putin really got through to the intended audience for his statements. And he was more than just heard – specific agreements have now been reached with Moscow regarding the first steps for getting out of the quagmire into which the backstage elites have led the world.